The Beachboys battled past a stubborn Sutton Utd to earn a place in the next round of the FA Trophy writes Chris Clark.
Concord Rangers on a winning run in the Conference South were again quick out of the traps at the Aspect arena, as Joe Gardner returning to the starting line up stung the hands of the Sutton keeper, Ross Worner on seven minutes. The Beachboys were showing their intent early. However Sutton reminded Concord that they wouldn’t be having things entirely their own way this afternoon as centre forward Craig Dundas found himself in space six yards out from a whipped in free kick on twelve minutes, Dundas though could not take advantage and stabbed the ball over the bar. Sutton were left to rue that missed opportunity as two minutes later Concord took the lead…Lewis Taaffe muscled Downer the Sutton right back off the ball, he checked inside on the left hand side of the penalty area and fired a cross or was it shot into the top far corner. Worner in the Sutton goal had no chance. Concord led 1-0 with Taaffe’s cross/shot. After the game Lewis insisted that it was a well hit shot, although this was said with a cheeky grin on his face!
Concord energised by Taaffe’s goal pressed for a second goal and on twenty-one minutes they earned a hotly disputed penalty. A long free kick was played into the box, and Jordan Cox in for the missing Steve Cawley had his shirt pulled. The referee pointed to the spot. It was harsh. Sutton were livid. Concord delighted. With Steve Cawley the regular penalty taker away…at his own wedding, Lewis Taaffe was the best man to take the penalty in his absence. Confident from his earlier strike Lewis stepped up, he sent the ball wide of Worner, but also wide of the post. It remained 1-0 to Concord.
Ben Greenhalgh was again having another great game in his role behind the front man, picking the ball up from deep and driving at the opposition defence. When Ben is on his game at this level, you’d have to look hard to find a more effective player in his position. A positive run and shot on twenty-five minutes was batted away by Worner. Concord’s superiority had not brought a second goal, and Sutton grew in confidence from this. Dan Wishart the Sutton left back who was impressive all game, had two long range strikes well saved by Ben McNamara in the Concord goal. Sutton were edging back into the game. The visitors equalised on forty-one minutes, when a cross into the Concord box found it’s way to Kevin Amankwaah on the far post who under pressure from Tom Stephen bundled the ball home. It was all square and that’s how it remained when referee Daniel Leach blew for half time.
Concord Rangers 1 Sutton United 1
Sutton buoyed by their equaliser late in the first half, started the second half in positive fashion and created some early pressure and forced several corners which were dealt with by the Concord defence. For all Sutton’s pressure they could not create a decent chance in open play, something which would haunt them as the second half wore on. For the Beachboy’s however it was a different story, when they attacked with purpose they could create chances. Again it was no surprise that Greenhalgh was the instigator, on fifty minutes he fired a rasping shot from eighteen yards over the bar. Adam Bailey-Dennis stabbed a good chance wide from a free kick a few minutes later, and Cox brought the best out of Worner on fifty-five minutes as the on-loan frontman hit a sweet volley on the turn which Worner tipped away.
Despite both sides exchanging spells of pressure neither side could force a breakthrough, and as the half wore on both sides knew that this tight game would be settled by one moment. That moment arrived on seventy-five minutes. Sutton again forced a corner, it was their only real threat…Concord struggled to clear their lines and the ball looped up and found the centre back Jamie Collins free in the six yard box, he headed the ball down into the bottom corner and it seemed certain that Sutton had taken the lead…however McNamara in the Concord goal had other ideas…he flung himself and tipped the ball wide for a corner. It was a great save, a match winning save. As Concord galvanised by McNamara’s save pressed forward. Tom Stephen thirty yards out swung a peach of a cross into the box and the ball deflected to Jordan Cox, who fired home from eight yards. The Beachboys had the lead on seventy-six minutes!
Sutton were deflated, they rang the changes and made three substitutions, but despite their physical threat they lacked any real guile to create an equalising opportunity. Concord nearly killed the game off on eighty minutes when Lewis Taaffe missed a free header from a corner, and then Ben Greenhalgh had a free kick well saved by Worner on eighty-three minutes. Worner in the Sutton goal had been exceptional, but he was to end up on the losing side. Concord made certain of their place in the next round of the Trophy with another penalty on ninety-two minutes, Steve King who had replaced Jordan Cox up front (yes Kingy up front!) astutely headed the ball onto Lewis Taaffe who was brought down by a despairing challenge by Dean Beckwith. Penalty. 100% this time. Greenhalgh grabbed the ball said “I’m having this” and duly stepped up and plonked the ball into the back of the net. The Beachboys led 3-1 and a minute later referee Leach blew the final whistle and Concord can look forward to Monday’s draw for the next round with anticipation.
Concord Rangers 3 (Taaffe 7mins, Cox 76mins, Greenhalgh 92mins (pen)
Sutton United 1 (Amankwaah 41mins)
McNamara, Hammond, Stephen, Easterford, Bailey-Dennis; White(c), Dowie, Gardner, Taaffe; Greenhalgh, Cox(sub 89mins King)
Subs not used – Cornhill, Lee, Topley, Newell.